Pepe and Sokratis goals see off Man United as Arsenal claim first win of Arteta's watch
Arsenal 2 Man United 0
Arsenal survived a nervy second half to hand Mikel Arteta his first win and end a wretched run of form at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners, dominant in the first half and full value for the 2-0 lead they eked out through goals from Nicolas Pepe and Sokratis, were so mindful of the fact they allowed Chelsea to fight back for the win a few days ago and made sure their defensive effort remained steadfast until the end.
At times they threatened to run out of steam in their efforts to stay in front but they managed to restrict United to half chances with a performance that will have delighted their new Spanish boss.
They badly needed this significant scalp to reinvigorate their moribund season and remind themselves that they have the players to compete.
Arsenal’s first-half performance was so impressive, it seemed inconceivable that they had gone seven home matches without a win before this success.
There was zip and purpose to their play and Arteta’s desire for his side to get the ball quickly to Mesut Ozil and Pepe, and set the tempo, bore fruit. They seized the initiative.
It always helps to get an early goal, of course, and in the eight minute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slipped the ball outside him to Sead Kolasinac and the burly defender pulled the ball back from the byline for Pepe to scuff past David De Gea.
And just before the break, the Gunners got the second goal their play merited when Sokratis picked up the pieces after De Gea could only palm out in front of him when Lacazette, at the near post, glanced a Pepe corner goalwards
There could have been more during an excellent opening 45 minutes from Arteta’s men. A Pepe cross from right ended with Aubameyang volleying just over bar.
Lacazette latched onto a ball into the box from Pepe and managed to pirouette around Harry Maguire before stabbing wide, then Lucas Torreira almost doubled the lead with a shot on the turn which flew inches wide of De Gea’s left hand post.
And on 38 minutes, Pepe struck a post after a poor kick out from United’s keeper landed at his feet 25 yards out - the winger’s curling left footer so very nearly punishing De Gea for his error.
United raised their game after the interval. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two substitutions, with one of them, Andreas Pereira, firing into the side-netting when well placed inside the area. Mason Greenwood, the other man off the bench, fired low down to Bernd leno’s left.
There was pressure to absorb from a high United press and perhaps a nagging fear that the energy expended in the opening half would leave them with not enough to repel the visitors indefinitely.
But the Gunners remained calm and were full deserving of a reward which should give them a big lift going into the second half of the campaign.
Line-up: Leno – Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac (Saka 69) – Xhaka, Torreira – Pepe (Nelson 62), Ozil, Aubameyang – Lacazette (Guendouzi 82). Subs not used: Martinez, Ceballos, Holding, Willock.